August 27, 2009

Cartharge, of Phoenicians and Punics

At the height of power, Carthage dominated up to 300 Phoenician colonies on the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean.

But their first conquest was Sardinia, where they claimed Karalis, today’s Cagliari.

Carthage—the “shining city”situated near modern-day Tunisia—was founded around 814 BC by the Phoenicians who emigrated from Tyre, naming their new home Qart-ḥadašt, which means ‘new city’.

Since the Carthaginians were essentially Phoenicians, the Romans called them Punicspūnicus, which is merely the Latin name for “Phoenician.” Remember, the Greeks referred to the Phoenicians as phoinikois after the purple dye.

When Phoenicia was conquered by Persia (present-day Iran) in 539 BC, Carthage inherited the entire trade network from Tyre, emerging as the commercial center of the Western Mediterranean. However, as the new leader of the Phoenician colonies around the Mediterranean, Carthage was thrust into conflict, mostly in Sicily, with the Greeks and Romans who were vying for power.

Probably the most notable Carthaginian of all was Hannibal (248–183 BC), one of the greatest military commanders in history who led an army of mercenaries, compatriots, and elephants through Spain and over the Alps against the Romans.

After 668 years of existence, Carthage was brutally destroyed by Rome in the Third Punic War, in 146 BC.

Like Phoenicia, Carthage produced embroidered and dyed garments of linen, cotton, and silk, as well as ceramics and metalwork.

As for menswear, I have uncovered the attire of Punic solders (photo, type left, courtesy of Phoenician expert Salim George Khalaf). They sported long braids that were tied back with a golden ring.

Then, in the Archeological musuem of Cagliari, I made some very interesting discoveries!

First, as the photo to the middle right evidences, Carthaginian men wore a type of tunic with short sleeves that extended to the knees and was tied with a belt.

Secondly, the Punic man on the right side of the vase (bottom left photo) appears to be wearing a sort of long, flowing Roman-like outer garment that draps over the shouler and an ankle-length inner garment.

Photo Carthaginian Copyright
Photo middle right, statuettes of Punic men, Museo archedologico nazionale di Cagliari.
Photo bottom left, vase of Punic woman and man, Museo archedologico nazionale di Cagliari.

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